Intuitively, most of us don’t trust food that has been tampered with. All over the country only the beasties who have no choice about their chow will eat the stuff. Thus far, the producers of these foods have avoided labeling because they know It would decrease sales. How do you like that?
What would be Yours response if you learned that these foods have not been evaluated for their effects on our health? That it is industry influence, not sound science, which has put them into our mouths? Further, overwhelming scientific research indicates that the foods should never have been approved.
Having discovered the truth for them-selves, our European neighbors have outright refused our GM foods. In essence, the EU has told the World Trad organization and the United States,”We‘ll pay the fines, but we won’t buy the poison.” More startling, even hungry African nations won’t accept GM foods. Given a choice, would you make such foods a part of your diet? Probably not.
Commonly called GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or “GM foods” and also referred to as GEs (genetically engineered), slang for these products is “Frankenfoods”.
Unfortunately, the scientists behind these experimental foods appear to be even less successful than Frankenstein. Tragically, the genii out of the bottle. Even though we may be able to replace the stopper, we are currently way short of the knowledge to repair the damage done. And there is damage: damage to our health and damage to our ecosystems.
Splice ‘n& Dice
We’re in a crisis position where we know the weaknesses of the genetic concept, but we don't know how to incorporate it into a more complete understanding. Monsanto knows this. DuPont knows this, Novartis knows this. They all know what I know. But they don't want to look at it because it’ too complicated and it’s going to cost too much [money and time, ed.] to figure it out. – Richard Strohman, Professor EmeritUs, University of California, Berkeley
Gene physiologys so complex, its functioning so intricate and elegant that it may be a very long time before we are able to interfere with it in any positive way. (And, when we understand, will we choose to forward our experiments?)
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is found inside the nucleus of every cell.
There are billion of atoms in that famous double helix. If uncoiled, a single DNA molecule would be nearly ten feet long!
DNA tells the cell how to behave and carries information that is passed on from generation to generation. Every cellular organism contains its own DNA, differing from ours only in size, content, and complexity. Although researchers have recently mapped the human genome, the way DNA transmits information to the cells is still largely a mystery.
We can compare genetic code with computer code. As you may know, computer software is based on a simple code of ones and zeros. DNA is also based on a code of recurring units. There are four of these. They are called
nuceotides or bases. The four bases arrange themselves in pairs. How the pairs are sequenced determines the information they impart. (A sequence is referred to as a strand.) Human DNA has three billion pairs.
Biotech companies and our government assure us that 1) genetic engineering is merely an extension of traditional breeding techniques, and 2) that it is a precise procedure. Actually, neither of these
For centuries, gardeners, farmers, and ranchers have cross bred plants or animals to increase the odds of getting desired traits. This is a technique that relies on reproduction to pass on genes. A simple example is crossing apple varieties to insure sweet and hardy fruit.
Sometimes these experiments work out; sometimes they don't. Breeding is a nothing ventured, nothing gained situation.
On the other hand, genetic modification is extremely haphazard.
There is nothing precise about it. When genetic crops are engineered, a gene is "inserted" randomly into a code sequence that has evolved over hundreds of millions of years. Most frequently a gene from one species is inserted into the gene sequence of a different species.
It is a random insertion because we have neither the technology nor the understanding to place the genes. The use of the word insert as though we have some control is grossly misleading.
One common method of gene transfer is to plast the genes into the DNA with a 22-caliber gene gun. First, thousands of tiny particles of gold or tungsten are coated with the gene. This ammo is loaded into the gun. Then the scientist fires it into a dish of cells. Once the genes are fired, a few of them may make it into a sequence such that the new material takes on the desired behavior.
However, there is actually no telling where along the strand it will end up.
This known as position effect
“Position effect” is among the fourteen known factors that can go wrong when playing Russian Roulette with genes. Position effect means the foreign gene can disrupt any number of naturally expressed traits depending on where it is forced into the strand. In Seeds of Deception, Smith gives the example of position effect causing some gene expression to be silenced. In this case, the foreign gene was designed to make petunias bloom a brilliant salmon red. Instead, the flowers varied in both color and pattern due to lack of placement control. Incidentally, the environment also had an effect on the new genes. Surprisingly, they switched off as the season progressed, changing the color of the petunias.
The relationship between "horizontal gene transfer" (another factor) and antibiotic resistance is particularly alarming. Only a small percentage of the blasted foreign genes makes it into the DNA. How do the scientists determine which of the thousands of cells have been successfully violated? Typically, this is done by attaching an Antibiotic Resistant Marker (ARM) to the foreign gene; If the gene package is delivered, the ARM gene leaves the mutated cell impervious to what would otherwise be a deadly dose of antibiotics.
So, following the gun blast, the cells are doused with antibiotics. Those that don't die have been penetrated. (Only one in thousands survives.) Many scientists are concerned that when humans and animals eat GM foods, the ARM genes will transfer into the bacteria in the gut. If the ARM gene makes this horizontal gene transfer, it could result in new and dangerous Antibiotic-resistant disease. This serious risk was mentioned by the members of the British Medical Association as one of the reasons why they called for an immediate moratorium on genetically engineered foods in the UK.
Danger, Danger, Will Robinson!
Working for the UK government, Dr.Arpad Pusztai investigated the possible health effects of his GM potato. Not only did Pusztai find negative impacts, his results indicated that the current method of genetic modification is basically flawed.
Pusztai's potatoes were genetically modified to produce a lectin type pesticide. Not the fat hormone leptin, lectins occur naturally in some plants. Pusztai is the world's expert on lectins. He knew this lectin was safe for humans. Plus, he had already published a study showing no apparent damage in rats fed 800 times more lectin than the potatoes were engineered to produce.
When Pusztai and his team tested their GM potatoes, the results were frightening. First, the nutritional content of the potatoes differed substantially from the parent line. Not only that, the nutritional content varied from one potato to another. This in itself invalidates FDA policy which is based on the assumption that any whole food combined with any presumed safe gene yields a safe and nutritionally stable result.
Plus, there were more disturbing findings. Pusztai found that his rats' immune systems were compromised. Compared to rats fed a non-GM diet, the subject rats' white cells were sluggish, leaving them vulnerable to disease and infection. In addition, their spleens and thymus glands (immune organs) showed damage. Besides the immune system, some of the GM-fed rats had smaller, less developed brains, livers, and testicles. Others had enlarged tissues, including enlarged pancreases and intestines. In some, livers were partially atrophied.
There were also significant structural changes. These included a proliferation of cells in the stomach and intestines. The latter can indicate an increased potential for cancer. The rats developed these serious health defects after only ten days. After 110 days, some of the changes still persisted. This time period is about 10 human years. It is unlikely that if the same problems developed in humans they would be traced to GM foods eaten a decade earlier.
It is important to realize that the origins of these health problems are the result of the interaction between the disordered genetic structure of the GM food and the rats' bodies. The process of genetic engineering in the UK is the same as that used in the US. In fact, during this time period in the US, we were eating GM potatoes as well as products from GM corn and oil from GM cottonseed.
These foods have been spliced with genes from soil bacteria, causing them to make their own pesticide called Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt. Although the potatoes (named NewLeaf) have been taken off the market due to consumer demand, the corn products and cottonseed oil are still produced and consumed here. (See chart.)
Shades of Puszta’s potatoes !!!
Why are GM foods are officially classified as pesticides by the Environmental Protection Agency?
In 1998, the New York Times Sunday Magazine published an article about the GM potato. Author Michael Pollan noted that according to law any new additive must be thoroughly tested. If it changes the product in any way, it must be labeled.
Pollan asked the FDA's biotechnology coordinator, James Maryanski, why the Bt toxin was not being treated as a food additive subject to testing and labeling.
Maryanski explained that for the purposes of federal regulation [Bt modified food] is not food but a pesticide and as such falls under the jurisdiction of the EPA.
The FDA has sole jurisdiction over the labeling of plant foods. They have ruled that biotech foods need to be labeled only if they contain known allergens or if they have been “materially” changed. Pollan then inquired whether changing a food into a pesticide wouldn’t be considered a material change. The response to this was “It doesn’t matter. The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act specifically bars the FDA from including any information about pesticides on its food labels.”
When Pollan later contacted the EPA to ask if they had tested the Bt potatoes, their answer was “not exactly”. The EPA works on the assumption that if the food is safe and the toxin is safe, then the whole package is presumed to be safe.
This premise was completely invalidated by Pusztai’s potatoes.
Over the seven years referred to in the above quote there have been 35,000 deaths, over 2 million hospitalizations, 500 million illnesses related to food. And, these are only the reported cases. Author Jeffrey Smith comments that this increase roughly corresponds to the period since Americans have been eating GM food. During this time obesity has become a national concern. Back in 1990, not one state reported 15 percent or more of its population as obese. By 2001, only one state remained in this lower obesity category. He also notes that diabetes rose by a phenomenal 33 percent in just 8 years (1990-1998), lymphatic cancers are increasing, and many other illnesses are on the rise. Is there a connection?
More worrisome than the unpredictable nutrition in GM foods are the effects of introducing proteins previously unknown to humans. Current biotech foods carry genes from bacteria, viruses, and other organisms. Without testing, we don't know what the allergy-causing potential of each of these foods might be. What we do know is that people went into anaphylactic shock – and some died from eating StarLinkGM corn. This product-from Aventis (a Swiss company) was not approved for human consumption. However, it wasn’t stored separately. Eventually, it was found in tacos, tortillas, and other corn products. Over 300 items were recalled and Aventis paid out an estimated $1 billion dollars for the contamination. Even though very little acreage was dedicated to raising corn from these bad seeds, Aventis admitted that due to cross pollination and other factors, StarLink would remain in the food supply forever.
According to Bill Friese of Friends of the Earth, in April 2000, before the American public knew anything about StarLink, one person "experienced immediate respiratory failure after ingesting two taco products". He had a heart attack and died soon after. No one knew to question StarLink at the time. If it hadn't been for a privately funded effort by Friends of the Earth and others, we still might not know, and StarLink might still be on the market.
On the other hand, Roundup Ready soybeans are still on the market. In fact, 80 percent of the US soybean crop is GMOs.
In March 1999, scientists at the UK’s YorkLaboratory (Europe’s leading food sensitivity specialists) discovered that soy allergy had jumped fifty percent from the previous year. People reacted with a range of chronic illnesses, including irritable bowel syndrome, digestion problems, and skin complaints. They also suffered neurological conditions with chronic fatigue syndrome, headaches, and lethargy. Scientists confirmed the link with soy by detecting increased levels of antibodies in the blood of the patients. At the time, most of the soy in the UKwas imported from the US and contained a significant amount of the Roundup Ready variety.
Roundup Ready crops share gene sequences identical to those found in a shrimp allergen and in a house dust mite allergen. In 2002, Dutch scientists discovered the sequences in the two herbicide resistant proteins which occur in the Monsanto-owned GMOs. In this country, soy and soy derivatives are ingredients in more than 60 percent of processed foods. GM soy is mixed with natural soy and the are not labeled. Smith comments that the protein inserted into GM papayas also possesses allergen look-alike sequences. Not surprisingly,this data have also been ignored by regulators.
Once again, the FDA relies entirely on each company’s own safety assessments, as it does for all GM crops. This is in the face of the risk to children. Children are three to four times more susceptible to allergies than adults. Infants (less than two years) have the highest incidence of reactions. They are especially sensitive to new allergens in their diets.
Were there time enough and space, I would tell you about milk from cows injected with rBST (recombinant bovine somatotropin, the euphemism for genetically modified bovine growth hormone) and the risk to your health. Milk is the food most highly associated with cancers of the breast, prostate, and lung. I-GF-1 (insulin like growth factor) is thought to be the culprit. This compound is identical in cows and humans. It occurs in substantially higher amounts in the milk of treated cows. In short, layoff the milk.
Think about it: None of us called for genetic manipulation of seeds. Not one of us said, “Yes, this new technology will benefit me, my family, and my community.” . . . . No citizens were asked to weigh the risks of GMOs against possible gains. Yet today most of us are eating them, while kept completely in the dark as to the hazards we may be facing – for ourselves, our children, and the farming ecosystems on which our lives depend. – Frances Moore Lappe’ from her Forward to Seeds of Deception.-Frances is the author of the classic Food for a Small Planet and FoodFirst!
Well, it looks like we’re safe eating beans (not soy) and rice, fruits and vegetables. Most livestock are fed GM feed. This is not good for them and likely not healthy for us. (It hasn’t been tested.) Buy organic soy, dairy,and meat.
This is our food we’re talking about here. Doesn’t this situation make you angry? We shouldn’t have to be wondering if what we’re eating is inherently dangerous to our well being. Why should a few greedy people be enabled to make the Big Bucks at the expense of our health and the health of the planet? Why isn’t our government protecting us? Who’s in charge here anyway?
Once you’ve read this newsletter, pass it around. Order more for your friends. Read the book and go on the website:
www.seedsofdeception.com. Join others.
We can make a difference!